Howard, Walker Help Hornets Come Out of All-Star Break Hot
Kemba Scores 31, Dwight Grabs 24 Boards in Win Over Nets
By Matt Rochinski, hornets.com
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The All-Star break apparently did some good for the Charlotte Hornets as Kemba Walker exploded for 31 points after his second-straight All-Star appearance on Sunday and Dwight Howard nearly had a career night, bringing down 24 rebounds to go with 15 points after getting some much-needed rest as the Hornets handled Brooklyn, 111-96, on Thursday at Spectrum Center.
Tied 55-55 following Brooklyn’s first possession of the second half, Charlotte’s starters had apparently had enough of the back-and-forth contest they were engaged in with the Nets. The Hornets starters caught fire starting with Dwight Howard’s putback of a Kemba Walker miss followed by a Nic Batum three from the top of the arc with 9:24 remaining to push the lead to five. Following two-straight empty Nets possessions, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished on a reverse drive on the break, was fouled by D’Angel0 Russell and hit the free-throw. Also in the sequence, DeMarre Carroll was whistled for a tech when arguing with the ref and Walker connected on the freebie giving the Hornets a rare four-point possession and a 64-55 advantage. But Charlotte wasn’t done, forcing two more Brooklyn empty possessions and converting on its own with a long alley-oop from Batum to Howard and a transition bucket from MKG to push the lead to 68-55 on the back of a 13-0 run. The Hornets would never trail the rest of the way.
Hornets Player of the Game (Pick up your Dwight Howard gear here)
With 10 points and 11 rebounds in the first quarter alone, Dwight Howard recorded his 37th double-double of the season. He finished the contest with 15 points and a season-high 24 rebounds (previous: 22 at MIL, 10/23), marking his fifth game with 20+ rebounds this season, tied for third most in the NBA this season. Howard’s five games with 20+ boards are the most in a single season by any Charlotte player (previous: Kurt Rambis/Emeka Okafor, 3) and were just two shy of his career-high 26 (4x).
Nets Player of the Game
Dante Cunningham came off the Brooklyn bench to score a team-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc. He completed the double-double with a team-high 12 rebounds while handing out four assists and blocking one shot.
In his first game after his second career All-Star appearance, Kemba Walker posted 31 points, seven assists and two steals. This was Walker’s 36th game this season with 20+ points and his 10th with 30+ points this season. Walker’s 31 points came on 12-of-22 shooting, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter alone on 5-of-6 shooting and 2-of-3 from long range… With his two made three-pointers, Nic Batum has 340 in his career in Charlotte, moving him past Matt Carroll (338) and into eighth place on the franchise’s all-time three-point leaderboard. Batum finished with 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds… Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 13 points and Marvin Williams tacked on 11 as all five Hornets starters scored in double figures… Charlotte lead Brooklyn in rebounds (54-41), assists (29-27) second-chance points (17-11), points in the paint (46-36) and fastbreak points (9-7)… In his first appearance with the Hornets, Willy Hernangomez brought down two rebounds in one minute.
Quote of the Night
“You never know what the first game back is going to be like. And I actually thought that our guys did a good job. We got off to a good start. The starters played well both halves. Then you could make the argument the key part of the game was the bench play early in the fourth quarter. So I thought everybody contributed. I thought we set a good tone defensively with Dwight (Howard), Marvin (Williams), and MKG (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist). Nic (Batum) had a stretch in the third where he got us going when we needed it. (Jeremy) Lamb had a stretch in the third quarter when we needed it. And obviously Kemba (Walker) in the fourth was terrific.” – Head Coach Steve Clifford